By Cesar Neyoy - Bajo
San Luis, Ariz.
- It's not ready to crest hills or negotiate rugged terrain, but high school
and Arizona Western College
students here recently unveiled their prototype of an all-terrain vehicle.
The unfinished chrome frame was fabricated in the welding shop at San Luis High School in what is a joint venture of the high school
and AWC students, and college officials hope their efforts will lead not just
to a trail-ready vehicle but a thriving off roading industry in the Arizona border town.
The AWC students are enrolled in a year-old off roading program at the San Luis
campus designed to prepare them for jobs as off road vehicle mechanics,
manufacturers, dealers and other facets of the sport.
"We have thousands of (off roading) enthusiasts who come to the recreational
areas in the desert in this region with their vehicles, but we don't now have a
service industry that they need," said Everardo Martinez Inzunza, south county
director for AWC. "So about a year ago, we began on an experimental basis a
class in the off road industry."
Part of the students' instruction relates to fabrication of the vehicles, and
the uncompleted prototype unveiled recently is one of their projects.
"They are creating a vehicle beginning with a frame made with a chrome
alignment," said Martinez Inzunza. "That is what the industry is using in the
Industrial engineering students from the Center for High Studies for Sonora, in neighboring San Luis Rio Colorado, Son., attended the recent
unveiling of the prototype in what he called an academic exchange between the
Martinez Inzunza said AWC is seeking financial sponsors to help the students
finish the project.
"We are taking with a local racer that is interesting helping us, but we need
AWC's San Luis campus began offering the off roading curriculum in early 2011,
hoping to take advantage of area residents' interest in off roading and of
thousands of off roaders from the Phoenix area and California who come to the
area each year during the milder months.
Talk of cultivating an off roading industry comes at a time when the border
city's economy has been battered by a recession and a dropoff in sales in San
Luis to consumers from neighboring Mexico.